From the moment that Gossip Girl opened with Peter, Bjorn & John, I felt a wash of Orange County air sweep through my window. Where else but Josh Schwartz’s former flame, ‘The O.C.’, would you find such attempts at musical relevance (a bit late due to the pilot delay)? After a month of endless promotion from CTV in Canada (Including a series of hideous testimonial-based commercials touting ‘Team Serena’ and ‘Team Blair’), it was almost a relief to know that young viewers would worry no longer: the next big teen drama has arrived.
I was most shocked by those elements of the series that the show’s endless commercials didn’t quite show us: Serena’s post-suicide attempt brother that brought her home, specifically, was definitely not in the teen debauchery commercials. Instead, we got the love triangles, the drinking and the debauchery. It’s just like how the commercials for The O.C. didn’t so much foreshadow the parental drama inherent to the show’s plot; said drama exists here as well, with two fathers and two mothers getting recurring story points within the episode.
If I were to put myself in the shoes of one of the show’s target viewers, those who would “pick a side” in the show’s central Serena vs. Blair showdown, I’d say that it was a successful first outing for the series. It delivers just the right amount of sexual content, underage drinking and upper class debauchery, and establishes the novel’s back story well; by the time the show intercut Chuck forcing himself on Serena and Serena’s past-fling with Nate, I could hear the sides being taken and the arguments forming.
As someone who enjoyed The O.C. more for its witty banter than its sexploitation (Although I’ve got a soft spot for the latter, I have to admit), there’s still a lot to enjoy with Gossip Girl: Dan Humphrey may not be Seth Cohen, but remains a point of relation for those of us not quite living the popular lifestyle, and his entire family provides the viewer a window into how we should be reacting to the high class lifestyles portrayed by the series.
In Jenny Humphrey (Who played Cindy Lou Who, which alarms me), we have our naive girl trying to play with the big girls. In Dan, we have our character stumbling his way into a life he doesn’t understand…mind you, he’s also cast directly into the same heartthrob category, so the window has its limitations.
The pilot does a good job of avoiding the overuse of Kristen Bell’s narration, and provides the proper introduction to the show’s characters and setting without feeling bogged down in exposition. It also, smartly, heads into its second episode with one of its key points of drama intact: Serena and Blair’s catfight continues as the prior returns to school while the latter plots her revenge.
In Canada, Gossip Girl will be airing on Tuesdays at 7pm once Dancing with the Stars returns next week. It also reairs on CTV on Sunday Night at 7pm. For American viewers, Gossip Girl debuts on The CW tomorrow, Wednesday September 19th, following the premiere of America’s Next Top Model.